Who's taking the brunt of the backlash?20 November, 2015 10:58
With full respect for the description of the IS' carnage in Paris 'as war against humanity' and in affirmation of the universal commitment to fight it, we cannot help notice though, the eye of the storm is rushing towards the Muslims!
Never since the 9/11 have the Muslims drawn suspicious stares for the hideous acts of a tiny minority as they are now. This dawns with a chilling effect on your sensibilities from an account of a Muslim immigrant in Paris. Speaking to the BBC a couple of days back, he admitted to being 'shamed' by the misadventure of a few jobless preyed upon by the lure of cash. It may be a tad simplistic observation leaving out the possibility of a so-called jihadi indoctrination. Yet, his shame will find a resonance with an overwhelming majority of his community.
It's the backlash of the Parisian massacre that is beginning to touch on the fulcrum of the Muslim community's immediate concern. Not only does the list of casualties of the attack on the French capital include a sizeable number of Muslims but they are also taking the brunt of the manhunt targeted at Muslim immigrant inhibited pockets. In the latest drives against the mastermind Al-Salah Aboud and his associates, his wife is known to have killed herself from a bomb strapped on her body. One more also died with her and there were several arrests made. Since most of the serial killers were suicide bombers dying instantaneously, the hunt is directed to unearth the whole plot, the modus operandi and the networking behind it all.
They are in search of bomb makers at the moment given the stupendous power of the explosions. Typically, cells are assigned to synchronise the operational details behind the scene. Whether they were connected to the IS core in Syria is a focal point of the ongoing inquest.
The plot was reportedly made in Syria and the operation launched from neighbouring Brussels. A mayor of a Muslim-inhabited township in Brussels sounded nervy saying that some mosques had been closed down earlier on while most were considered 'noble' and therefore functioning.
The IS nicknamed Daesh, an Arabic word meaning a group of bigots imposing their will on others not only killed innocents but also put majority of Muslims on the harm's way by giving Islam a bad name. They do not rest content with orchestrating a catastrophe, they even courted backlash as an apparently favoured agenda. The extremists want division and alienation between communities, disenfranchisement of the Muslims and application of Draconian laws against them; for there is a mileage to be made from their plight.
At the top of the Western response, France has invoked collective clause of EU whereby attack on one member is dealt with as an attack on other members of the community. Thus a coalitional approach has already got underway. There is also talk of invoking Article (5) of NATO which barring in the case of September 11 has not been invoked thus far. A coalition of the willing is in place already.
The IS is territorially cornered; that's why it is ramping up extraterritorial misadventures. But experts think that they can be overpowered in amazingly quick time if Putin, Rohani, Obama and King Salman of KSA make a common cause of their fight against the monster. They would be stoking with fire if they didn't.
IS has vaulted to the top of a greasy pole and strange associations are linked to its origin. A desperate organisation like the IS can have strange bedfellows, perhaps not excluding an Israeli connection, with the objective of dividing and weakening the Muslim world.
The IS threat perception is spreading: US, UK, Japan and India are on alert. In Bangladesh Italian priest and doctor Piero Parolari was the latest target of a blatant snipe shot few miles off the sleepy Dinajpur town. Thankfully, he has survived but not without reminding us of the foreigner killings in Bangladesh.
George Osborne, Conservative MP in Britain, has touched on a vital issue of an attempted cyber war against Western infrastructure, a capability that the IS is now far from acquiring but may try to get hold of. IS has used the social media for radicalisation through devious propaganda machinations. The British MP held up the possibility of suddenly unlighted hospitals, immobilised metro rail or stoppage of civic services. He has asked for a huge budgetary allocation to build up cyber technology defense mechanisms.
We would do well to take a leaf or two from a book titled The Accidental Guerrilla with the subtitle Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One by David Kilcullen. 'The book has an anthropologist's sense of social dynamics and a reporter's eye for telling detail.'
His argument pivots around two observations: a) Our current focus is far too narrow, for it tends to emphasise one geographical region and one state; b) While there is a 'global enemy', it amounts to 'only two percent to five percent of the people we have been fighting since 9/11.' Many of the others are 'Accidental Terrorists' provoked into retaliation by intrusion into their territory or disputes.
The Times recommends, 'His (Kilcullen) strength is in knowledge of the different enemies and their motivation, and it is his case that without understanding those subtleties, the battle is lost.'
The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.